Editor’s Note: This interview with Maritza Hyde was conducted by Tulane student, Jake von Halle as a part of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum’s New Orleans con Sabor Latino exhibit. This exhibit was the result of a joint effort by Tulane University, SoFaB, and community partners.
In Dr. Sarah Fouts’ interdisciplinary seminar, Food, Migration, & Culture, Tulane students worked with Latino members of the New Orleans food industry to create a series of oral histories exploring the role of Latin culture in our city’s restaurant scene. With stories ranging from famous restauranteurs to line cooks, New Orleans con Sabor Latino demonstrates the diversity of experience within this community, as well as their vital contributions to the Big Easy.
Maritza Hyde, Oral History [Full Text Below]
Restaurateur Maritza Hyde explains how her business can compete in a city replete with eateries, both chains and local favorites.
Maritza Hyde is originally from Guatemala and owns Pepperoni’s Cafe, with her husband. Pepperoni’s Cafe, located on Hampson Street Uptown, is an Italian restaurant that also features fresh juices and a full breakfast menu. The restaurant initially opened in Gentilly before moving to Elysian Fields, then Uptown. Here is what Maritza has to say about that journey.
“My name is Maritza Hyde. The name of our restaurant Pepperoni’s Cafe. We started with my husband in 19…97. My husband had a background in restaurants and he asked me to help him set up. 20 years later, I’m still helping him, you know, we’re still working here.
We are surrounded here by 21 restaurants in one block, so competition is fierce. So we have found that the best way to compete is with service. Just don’t offer a meal. But our goal is to offer, and not only an experience, we’re looking for long time relationships with our customers. Kids and families. We’re really big on that. We like to keep families together.
As a matter of fact, we have this program that we have with different schools, it’s called ‘It Takes a Village.’ In our, what we do is is that, they pick someone every month who has done something for the school. Let’s say, it could be a student, it could be a teacher, it could be a janitor. So we invite them to come eat here, but we don’t just invite the person. We invite the whole family.
Because it does take a village. It’s not just one person that makes something or somewhere successful. We have a great staff, great people who are really get to be family for you. We also try to make sure that they are okay and well-taken care of, so we can, you know, perform well. So finally looks like yes, we’re going to be here a little longer. We still have some energy to work and all that, but we will decide when we get there.”
Special thanks to the Tulane University Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, and the Tulane University Center for Public Service for their assistance and support of this project.